Design & build from the ground-up 

So you’re ready to design and build the new custom home you’ve been dreaming about. You’ll be enjoying your new home with your family for years to come so its important that the home is functional relative to your lifestyle and designed to reflect your personality. At the same time you want the project completed on-time and on-budget without the headaches that come with construction consuming your life.

If that’s you then you’re in the right place. Studio 818’s framework for designing and building luxury custom homes stands in stark contrast to conventional design-bid-build approaches.

With our process we:

  1. Mitigate change orders and manage the headaches
  2. Reduce timelines for the construction phases
  3. Optimize project outcomes with systemized attention to finish details

We understand the challenges you face when it comes to designing and building a new custom home from the ground up. Before founding STUDIO 818 we designed, developed and sold over fifty of our own designer spec homes as investment projects.

We’ve seen how badly a project can go off-the-rails when you start things off on the wrong foot. That’s because the roots of a smooth and successful project are embedded in the very first step you take.

Where the design & build of your new custom home can go wrong

It’s easy to get excited about designing and building a new custom home. In the zeal to get a project rolling many people will take one of the paths common to the industry. Unfortunately common paths leads to common problems. That’s why you hear so many horror stories shared about home renovation and construction.

The three ways people are usually tempted to begin their custom home project seem innocent enough. But by going down any one of these paths they unwittingly sow the seeds for a bumper-crop of problems as the project proceeds.

  • Starting your project with an Architect. 


    Some people start out their project working exclusively with an architect. They dedicate months of time and tens-of-thousands of dollars for permit plans to be finalized and ready for bidding by contractors. Only then do they discover the “real” budget required to construct the structure their new home. And if a design firm has not been developing finish plans along side the permit plans, the owner still only has part of the overall number.  


    We respect architects and absolutely love the professionals we work with. Their job is to plan and work with engineers to generate the architectural design you want. But it is not their responsibility to advise you on an all-encompassing investment relative to your desired scope of work. Nor can they advise you on the cost impacts of design choices. That’s how you end up with sticker-shock 6-months into the planning process.


    In contrast, with the STUDIO 818 framework we begin to align your desired design aesthetic and project scope with the expected overall investment early in the pre-planning stage before the architect begins their work. This helps you avoid the wasted time, frustration and disappointment of having to go back to the drawing board to redesign your project all over again.


  • Beginning your project with a General Contractor.


    Some homeowners start a project by asking a general contractor (GC) to give them a quote. When they do they unknowingly put the GC in the position of having to provide numbers based on a lot of assumptions. The GC will need to protect themselves by including plenty of allowances (guesses) for things like finishes, fixtures, equipment, and more.


    Clients who have made this mistake on a previous project understand these type of preliminary quotes by contractors are often misleading. Even to give you realistic ‘ballpark’ numbers the GC needs at least some sort of conceptual design plans. In fact, the best GC’s out there will refuse to give you any numbers without the information that will allow them to be successful.


    With the STUDIO 818 design + build management framework we lay the foundation for success in our Pre-Planning phase. Before getting the GC involved we develop the preliminary floor plan, conceptual design and direction on the level of finishes, fixtures and equipment that will impact the investment required. This process helps you avoid the change orders, runaway budget and constantly expanding construction timelines that usually accompany a GC-lead project.


  • Deciding to mange the project yourself. 


    Some homeowners decide to put themselves in a leadership role by cobbling together a team for a major design & build project, This is one of the biggest mistakes people can make. Our best clients have tried this in the past and they learned this decision created a Frankenstein-like project that literally consumed their lives.


    By following this path the owner ends up in perpetual reaction mode trying to manage what usually becomes pure chaos. Without an experienced organized leader on-point all the headaches, mistakes and conflicts that come with a project of this scope to fall into the homeowners’ lap. An owner leading their own project WILL become the center of what often ends in a very nasty finger-pointing “triad of miscommunication” between the architect, designer and GC.


    With the STUDIO 818 team leading your project from the pre-planning stage we help protect you from avoidable miscommunications, finger-pointing and ballooning budget. We are experienced in every aspect of the design & build process. Our framework handles all the headaches and manages the countless details that would otherwise fall through the cracks.


You have some concerns with your custom home project. We get it.

Designing and building a luxury custom home is a big undertaking. You’ll be investing substantial amounts of your time, money and emotions into the project. You rightfully have concerns about what your investment will produce as an end result.

We understand first-hand your concerns and considerations as the owner. In our real estate investment experience we’ve purchased, designed and developed dozens of properties of our own. On these development projects we bear the responsibility of managing millions of dollars in funds entrusted to us by our investment partners for the purpose of delivering healthy investment returns.

This experience gives us an unparalleled “owners’ perspective” on every client project. STUDIO 818’s Design + Build Management framework is so different because it was developed by owners to serve the needs of owners.

Our unique blending of real estate investment experience, outside-the-box design capabilities and construction management expertise makes our process unique to residential renovations, major rehab projects and luxury custom home building.

The STUDIO 818 team has got your back

Thanks to our designer-led Design + Build Management framework you won’t have to fall prey to the problems, needless cost-overruns and disappointing results experienced by owners who follow one of the conventional industry paths discussed above.

Because of our real estate investment and development experience STUDIO 818’s step-by-step framework is structured differently than the standard industry approaches.

With STUDIO 818 leading your project from the start we set you and your project up for success. We are your guide and advocate from pre-planning to your move-in day.

Our process begins with an extensive Pre-Planning phase that includes feasibility analysis, conceptual design and alignment of project scope to budget. We then master plan the entire project, iron out and document all the technical details, and manage the procurement of all finishes, fixtures & equipment.

Then as the project progresses we stand in the gap to protect your from the design flaws, change orders and time-suck that come with the typical custom home project.

On the practical side our process incrementally lays the foundation for the success of your project before the first hammer swings. Once construction starts we make sure the design and details you approved are built the way it was intended. All the headaches handled right up to your move-in day.  

Just as important is the relationship side of the project. The planning, design, construction and furnishing of a luxury home can take 18-months or more from pre-planning to move-in day. That’s a lot of time to be working together.

We love what we do. And we want you to enjoy the planning, design and construction stages as much as the end result. The only way that happens is for you to know, like and trust the team leading your project. 

That’s why our Design + Build Management framework is set up to build the relationship and trust between you and the STUDIO 818 team in natural incremental steps as well.

Watch the video below to learn about our process & the benefits our clients enjoy

The #1 key to less stress & greater success when designing & building your new custom home

In the video above you probably noticed we talk a lot about the alignment of your project scope with the investment it will realistically require to complete that work. This is the key to putting your custom home project on the right track from the start. 

In our real estate investment and development work if we fail to properly align the project scope and targeted investment that would mean we and our investors would both lose money. A BIG no-no obviously!

With your new custom home it’s just as important to make sure the project scope and targeted investment are aligned from the beginning. If not you can look forward to months of wasted time, frustration and unnecessary financial stress as the project moves forward.

Even our clients who tell us “there is no budget” benefit from our framework. Having an open-ended budget overall may be true. But we always learn through our process that though a client may have no limit on what they are willing to invest on some items or areas, they may have caps on other areas due to personal preferences. .

The scope-to-investment alignment completed in the pre-planning phase of our Design + Build Management framework is essential to your project running smoothly. This is true regardless what your position is when it comes to the budget.

What our Design + Build Management framework looks like


Here’s a brief introduction.

Meet & Greet

Regardless of project scope the first step with a new STUDIO 818 client is always a Discovery Consultation. This is a free 30-minute phone meeting where we discuss your goals with the proposed project, general design aesthetic, timelines, and more.


You’ll receive an initial analysis of your project including how your targeted investment aligns with the initial project scope. We’ll also discuss the best options on how to proceed with your project.


Schedule your Discovery Consultation here



Project Assessment


STUDIO 818’s exclusive Project Assessment process is invaluable for aligning your project scope with the overall investment for your custom home.


Our Project Assessment is a detailed feasibility study that gives you clarity and understanding of exactly what your project will require before any design or planning begins.


The resulting Project Assessment report provides three key pieces of information that will help you effectively plan and make accurate decisions on your project right from the start.


1 – Detailed all-inclusive budget projections for every aspect of your project

2 – Estimated timeline for the project completion

3 – The projected valuation of your property after completing the proposed scope of work


When we review your Project Assessment report together you’ll have all the practical and financial “knobs and dials” needed to make accurate decisions with confidence. If it becomes necessary to re-align the initial scope of work and targeted overall investment we are able to discuss practical, tangible options to fine tune your project.





Once we have refined your project scope to align with the targeted overall investment in the Project Assessment process we’re ready to move into Pre-Planning. This step includes Programming and Conceptual Design phases where we pre-plan every aspect of your project to maximize efficiency in the design and construction phases.


There’s a substantial amount of work that is completed in the Conceptual Design phase, but some of the highlights are:


– Clarify design preferences though our exclusive Rapid Fire exercise
– Develop & finalize your space plan and conceptual exterior elevations
– Confirm design direction and general level of finish quality with mood & concept boards


Most importantly you will have a final project scope and final targeted budget locked in. Only once we have reached this point of our relationship do we sign into full contract on the remainder of the project.



Project Master Planning


After the Conceptual Design phase we head into Master Planning. This is where the real magic takes place.


There are multiple phases and hundreds of hours of work that go into this step. We will discuss this in more detail on your free Discovery Consultation but for now here are some of the high-points:


– Interactive 3D & virtual reality modeling for spatial study
– Physical samples of finishes to touch & feel
– Photorealistic rendered views with actual finishes & fixtures
– Finish plan with approved finishes, fixtures & equipment
– Coordinate with architect and/or engineers to create the permit plan set
– Pre-screen General Contractors (GC)
– Meet with GC on-site for bid-walks
– Place, manage & track all finish, fixture & equipment (FF&E) orders including inspection, damage claims & returns



Construction Administration


Construction Administration begins with managing the contractor selection process. Once construction begins we have regular on-site meetings with contractors to review work progress relative to plans. These visits allow us to proactively identify potential issues with construction work and creatively solve problems as they arise.


As the project progresses there are invariably questions that the GC and subcontractors will have. We provide quick responses with the requested clarifications. This ongoing communication is critical for work to proceed efficiently.


In addition to the above, here are some other examples of how STUDIO 818 stands in the gap as your advocate throughout the build process with our Construction Administration:


– Document all communications with contractors in our project management dashboard, available via your client portal 
– Provide you project update reports at a minimum of every other week during construction
– Review invoices from General Contractor and verify invoiced amounts are in alignment with progress of work or unexpected site conditions
– Punch list management & oversight
– Perform Project close-out procedures including handing off specifications, owner’s manuals, as-built drawings, warranty information
– Coordinate and manage final “construction” cleaning



An advocate who guides & protects you

A Custom Home is a big investment. You deserve an advocate who will guide and protect you through what is a complex and sometimes confusing process. At times it can be chaotic, especially during the construction phase. One of our clients once remarked that it’s like designing and building a plane while flying it and being shot at all at the same time. 

That’s why a critical component of our Design + Build Management framework is our role as the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM). As OPM we stand in the gap protecting you by preemptively foreseeing and solving problems, maximizing the return on your investment, and mitigating change orders or delays.

The STUDIO 818 team leads your project from conceptual design, into master planning and through construction — all the way to your move-in date. We are your single point of contact throughout the project. This protects your time and prevents miscommunication between the key contributors to your project. With this top-level oversight we’re able to keep your project on-target with a relentless focus on efficiency.

Watch the video below.

With STUDIO 818 leading your project every detail is pre-planned to control project costs and increase efficiency before the first hammer swings. When construction begins we stand in the gap for you handling all the challenges that arise while protecting you, your design and your budget.

By now you have a good idea of how STUDIO 818’s Design + Build Management framework combined with our our real estate investment experience can best serve you with your new custom home. 

Let’s take the next step. Schedule a time to meet and discuss your project.


It’s simple to get started. Click the button below to schedule an appointment for your free Discovery Consultation and let’s review your project together.

Still have some questions about working with STUDIO 818 on your new custom home?

Visit out FAQ page